Use Dropbox to quickly import working templates into Drafts.

I’m having a lot of fun exploring Drafts and finding out new ways to streamline my workflow. Here’s another really cool feature I learned that will allow you to quickly import pre-made templates into Drafts (regardless of which device you’re using), edit them, and send them to Evernote for processing.

Apps required for this workflow: Drafts, Evernote, Dropbox.

This process involves creating templates for documents that you use on a regular basis. I’m going to use meeting agendas as an example for this post.

Daniel Gold talks about using a master meeting note in his excellent book, Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Getting Things Done, which I think is a very useful tool for keeping track of meetings.

 

Using Daniel’s template as an outline, I created a skeleton meeting template (formatted with Markdown) in Drafts. You can copy and paste this skeleton into Drafts and make changes to suit your needs.

## Meeting Name

_In attendance:_

_Absent:_

### Topics:

* Topic

* Topic

* Topic

### Topic Discussion Notes

### Next Action Items

After drafting the template skeleton, you need to upload it to Dropbox. To do this, you will need a Dropbox account (it’s free and extremely useful if you don’t already have one). Install the app on your iPad/iPhone and link the account to Drafts in the settings options.

After you lay out your template, save it to Dropbox by using the premade Save to Dropbox command. By default, it will save into the Apps folder under Drafts. Using the Dropbox app, I created a folder called “Drafts Templates” where I keep all my templates so I can quickly pull them regardless of the device I’m on.

Brace yourself, because you’re about to have your mind blown with how simple and efficient this is. Just tap and hold the + icon, select Import from Dropbox, and navigate to the template you want to import. Drafts will automatically bring a copy of that template for you to edit!

 

When I’m finished with the draft and want to send it to Evernote for processing or archiving, I use the following custom Drafts action I built specifically for this template. To minimize post-note processing, I like to create a specific capture action for each template. Fortunately, creating these actions only takes a few moments. Here is the action I use for meeting agendas.

How to set up the capture action.

Navigate to Evernote Actions (under Custom Actions) in the settings pane.

 

Entering ‘Meeting [[date|%m/%d/%y]]’ in the title field will put “Meeting MM/DD/YYYY” as the title of the note. Modify this title how you want (for example, if you have specific names for your meetings). I keep the title generic and enter the meeting title in the template body because it’s searchable in Evernote and it allows me to use this template for any meeting.

You can put a timestamp by using [[date|%I:%M %p]] which displays as XX:XX AM/PM. If you want a date and timestamp you would use both in the title line: [[date|%m/%d/%y %I:%M %p]] which would read MM/DD/YYYY HH:MM AM/PM.

I leave the Notebook field blank so Drafts sends the note to my default inbox for processing. However, if you have one particular notebook you keep your meetings in, simply type the name of that notebook here. (Note that Drafts will return an error if you type a notebook that does not exist – it will not create a new notebook. Keep that in mind if you rename your notebooks.)

You can add the tags you want your meeting agendas to be labeled with in Evernote using the tags field. This is useful if you tag all your agendas with something like “meeting.” If you want more control over your agenda tagging you can use the [[line|n]] syntax that I discussed here. For example, we can tell it to use whatever we put in line 2 of the draft as a tag by entering [line|2]. Just make sure you adjust your meeting template accordingly. Drafts will create a new tag if it does not already exist in Evernote.

I also have “Send as Markdown HTML” turned ON so the formatting of the template carries over to Evernote. After saving, I go back to settings, Manage Actions, and switch After Success to Delete to get it out of the application after sending to Evernote (saving me the step and reducing clutter in Drafts).

Click here if you want to automatically import this action into your Drafts application.

Here’s how this works in real life.

I somehow got tricked into a meeting. Best pull up my trusty template!

I fill out the information about the meeting and take notes as the meeting progresses.

When the meeting is over, I use my Send Meeting to Evernote action to send a nicely formatted meeting agenda with notes to my Evernote account for processing.

Here’s what it looks like in Evernote.

I hope this guide for setting up Drafts as an Evernote meeting capture tool was helpful. Please share it with your Evernote/GTD/iPad productivity enthusiasts and help them leverage this awesome tool more effectively! If you have any questions about how to do this or have some techniques you would like to share, please let me know!

 

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